Posts tagged with "Watts Towers":

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LACMA is considering two new outposts in South Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is moving to expand the number of facilities it operates with not one, but two new potential sites in South Los Angeles. The New York Times reports, that the institution is looking to potentially expand to a 80,000-square-foot industrial building in South Los Angeles Wetlands Park and to a vacant site located in the 104-acre Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park in an effort to boost community outreach and make better use of resources as the organization plans a controversial $600 million expansion of its main campus. LACMA is currently working to acquire rights to use both sites, with the Wetlands Park location being further along in the approval process. Plans for that site will come up for consideration later this week by the Los Angeles City Council, which expected to approve a 35-year lease on the site so that LACMA can initiate its adaptive reuse project. The industrial structure LACMA intends to occupy dates to 1911 and was formerly used to store trains and buses that served the local transportation system. The single-story beaux-arts structure has sat empty for decades, however, even as the former rail yards surrounding it were converted into wetlands by planning and design firm Psomas. Plans released during the initial completion of the park’s water retention and landscaped areas in 2014 called for repurposing the structure into a rail museum, a plan that has since given way to LACMA’s potential reuse. The renovations are expected to cost between $25 million and $30 million, Govan told The New York Times. Referencing the museum’s plans for replacing its existing facilities in Mid-Wilshire, LACMA director Michael Govan told The New York Times, “You start thinking, where can the value of your collection and program be the greatest, when you’re behind a big fancy fence on Wilshire Boulevard or out in the community?” The museum—which receives roughly 25 percent of its funding from Los Angeles County—is also looking at a site six miles to the south of the park for a potential third location. Those facilities would occupy the site of the former Ujima Village housing project, which was demolished in 2009 due to contamination issues at the site. The park sits near the Blue Line light rail line and within walking distance of the Watts Towers arts complex. The potential ground-up development would present an opportunity for the museum to build a new structure in the park that could potentially accommodate LACMA’s off-site art storage facilities. The park is currently in the midst of a $50-million, decade-long renovation and remediation effort and local officials are reportedly receptive to LACMA’s plans. Regarding the two-site plan, Govan told The New York Times, “I can tell you now, it’s not an either-or. If we get both spaces, I think that it will be even easier to make each work. Each property offers very different advantages in completely different neighborhoods.” A timeline for the second site has not been announced. The location expansions would add another layer to the changing dynamic in the South Los Angeles region, which has slowly begun to gentrify in anticipation of the new Crenshaw Line light rail route and as high housing costs elsewhere push formerly-reluctant homebuyers into the area. As far as institutional players go, LACMA will be joined in the area by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is in the process of creating a satellite facility in nearby Inglewood designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry’s plans for the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) will repurpose an existing 17,000-square-foot facility into a new community center that will provide performance and rehearsal spaces for up to 500 young musicians. Designs for the complex have not been unveiled, but the new YOLA facilities are expected to open in 2022.
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A Visit To Watts Towers

Yesterday we visited one of our favorite sites in Los Angeles: Watts Towers. The amazing complex, which includes four towers, a gazebo, fountains, and a slew of other jumbled elements, was designed by Simon, or Sam Rodia, a tile factory worker who labored on the project basically without stopping for over thirty years (from 1921-1954). The structures rise as high as 100 feet and are clad with broken bottles, tiles (over 15,000 of them), sea shells, and pretty much anything else Rodia could get his hands on. Their frame is made from chicken wire, barbed wire, coat hangers, and other makeshift materials. The feat is all the more amazing considering that Rodia didn't study any sort of building trade and was illiterate. He usually worked until 1 or 2 in the morning then went back to work in a factory the next day. Click on an image to launch the slideshow.
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Quick Clicks> Mega Watts, Luck, Mattise, Like Jane

Mega Watts. The Los Angeles Times reports that the James Irvine Foundation has granted $500,000 toward the preservation of LA's Watt's Towers, declaring the folk-art stalagmites "an important cultural icon." (Photo courtesy Robert Garcia/Flickr) Luck in School. The NY Times relays the story of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck who has chosen to pursue a degree in architectural design at Stanford's School of Engineering rather than head off to the NFL draft. We wish Mr. Luck, well, all the best in his endeavors, but life as an architect can make the NFL seem like a walk in the park. Al Matisse? Variety brings us news that Al Pacino has been selected to play Henri Matisse in an upcoming film called Masterpiece detailing the French painter's relationship with his nurse, model, and muse Monique Bourgeois. Producers will soon be looking for female leads. Like Jane. The Rockefeller Foundation is accepting nominations for this year's Jane Jacobs Medal honoring two living individuals who have improved the vitality of NYC and, among other things, "open our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding our city."
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Doing Ollies In Watts

Whoah, Dude... The LA Times reports that a group including skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is backing a proposal to build a neighborhood skate park about 40 yards from LA's Watts Towers. The colorful towers, made of twisting steel and shards of ceramics, among many other things, were built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1954. They're arguably South LA's most important landmark. According to the story the skate park—whose circular bowls are reminiscent of the towers' plans—is being pushed by councilwoman Janice Hahn and the Wasserman Media Group, an L.A. sports management and marketing company. And "Although no formal plan has been submitted, a conceptual plan has been drawn and fundraising is already underway, with an early boost from Hawk." Most in the Towers' camp seem irked by the idea, fearing excess noise and distraction. "It sounds like it would be great for Watts, but not near the towers," said Michael Cornwell, chairman of the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts. Should be interesting...